Local Current Blog

New Power Generation members announce three Prince tribute concerts in June at Fine Line

Michael Bland performs at the Memorial Street Party outside of First Avenue on April 21, 2017 (Nate Ryan/MPR)

The first anniversary of Prince’s untimely death may have passed, but the celebration of his life is not ending any time soon.

Members of the New Power Generation (NPG), who worked with Prince from 1990-2013, have announced that they have plans to revisit Prince’s music in a celebration called “This Thing Called Life: The Prince Tribute 2017.” The celebration will span for three days — June 8, 9 and 10 — at the Fine Line Music Cafe in downtown Minneapolis.  Tickets are $45-$55.00 and can be purchased at the Fine Line box office as well as online.

NPG members onstage will include Michael Bland, Sonny Thompson, and Tommy Barberella. Rounding out the band are Julius Collins of Greazy Meal on vocals, Homer O’Dell of Mint Condition, and Jeremy Ylvisaker (The Suburbs) on guitar with Ryan Liestman (Jonas Brothers) on keys.

It’s a partial reunion of the band Bland assembled for the Memorial Street Party last Friday, and at least one other local legend who sang at that event will make a return appearance at the Fine Line. That would be David Pirner of Soul Asylum, who sang “I Wish U Heaven” and “The Cross” at the Street Party. Special guests at the Fine Line will also include Margaret Cox of Dr. Mambo’s Combo, Jamecia Bennett of Sounds of Blackness and The Hornheads (Prince’s horn section).

Taking place right after what would be Prince’s 59th birthday, “This Thing Called Life” promises to provide a fulfilling Prince tribute in a more intimate setting. Collins thinks that this celebration will be a healing one for Prince fans. “Based on what I saw at Paisley and on the streets at First Avenue recently, I think people are still emotionally raw,” he said in a press release. “But everyone is getting some distance after a year. The June event should finally prove cathartic for everyone onstage and on the dance floor.”

Other occasions on which NPG members have reunited to honor Prince include a run of shows last summer at the Parkway and just this past Sunday at Paisley Park’s Celebration 2017. Cecilia Johnson described the Parkway shows as “more jamboree than bereavement, which felt appropriate.”

Writer Hanna Bubser is an English student at Hamline University.

  • Kristen Green

    This is a very nice gesture that NPG is reunite again in June when Prince would had turned 59. I was love this whole idea. I was going to honor the Purple One with his favorite foods that he ate for Brunch, make a cake and have it decorated in Purple and Black w/ Prince’s face on it. Do a dedicated songs in Prince’s name that are my favorite. I might attend over the weekend. Since, Prince’s birthday lands on a Wednesday. Saturday night make all right. Raspberry Beret.

    • Jina Cunningham

      We will NEVER stop celebrating The Purple YODA

      • Kristen Green

        I know. That’s why I am doing my own tribute at my Apt. Then I will be at Minneapolis in June.

  • Danielle

    Where’s Tony?? ☹️

    • Michael Bland

      It’d be great to have everybody. But, we’re not trying to compete with the official Original NPG, steal their shine or cheapen the brand. Me, Sonny and Tommy were friends and worked together before we were hired by Prince. Sonny and Prince go as far back as their teen years. We’re just trying to honor him in the most direct and meaningful way we know how.

      • Greg Kucheran

        You also were also his band when he called himself Tora Tora, I LOVED the Exodus album, especially ‘Count The Days’ <3 and the interview you all did where he was veiled had his cane, and didn't speak a SINGLE WORD, he just gestured and whispered answers to Mayte, those were the days indeed.

        • Michael Bland

          Right on, man-

          • DONNA GREGORY

            I was so fortunate to be a makeup artist for NPG: Michael, Sonny, Tommy, Morris, & Mayte and for Prince (in the form of setting up his tour room, preparing his makeup, etc.). I worked on many videos, photo shoots, live performances, etc.. I was a guest at the beautiful & poignant wedding of Prince & Mayte. We were all there. I was the “mystery woman in the red dress” for the local press at their wedding church. In those years; I was present and saw & deeply felt the profound & forever bond of his true/close friends and how Prince was with them – his Family in the highest sense of the word. Recently, I have spent time with Marva King & The Twinz (we 4 are now good friends) & Julius Collins and more, during performance times and more. I was present last June when they gave – “everything they had in them” to honor their friend Prince at the theatre. I was backstage with Mayte and more at the Excel Center in Oct. 2016, for their mesmeriing & reverent homage to Prince. I was grateful for my access pass for the 4 day Life Celebration of Prince, at Paisley Park (Apri 20-23). Their Tribute- will stay in our hearts forever.They are brilliant artists and Souls of exceptional GOOD de QI. They will honor Prince as long as they live. LUCKY us! Donna Gregory.

  • Mike Adams

    when Prince fired The Revolution it was the beginning of the end

    • Michelle Esberg Sierra

      No way!!! Just moving on!